A row of closed shops with signs reading "Final Clearance" and "Closing Down." One shop has a "To Let" sign above the door, indicating it as a vacant property. Various other retail signs dot the buildings, creating a sense of deserted commerce.

The Vacant Property Security Checklist

When a business finds itself in possession of a vacant property, whether it be due to relocation, renovation, or simply a pause in operations, ensuring the security of the property becomes a critical concern. Vacant properties are often vulnerable to vandalism, theft, and unauthorised access. To help businesses effectively secure their vacant properties, we have compiled a comprehensive checklist of key aspects to consider.

In Great Britain, there are an estimated 165,000 commercial premises that remain empty, according to research conducted by Habitat for Humanity. When Oculus are dealing with a vacant property there are a number of services we complete straight away to protect the asset.  In the initial visit we recommend completing:

  • Vacant Property Risk Assessment – Ongoing weekly/fortnightly
  • Drain Down of Non-Essential Services
  • Signage Install
  • Security Screening
  • CCTV/Alarm Installation
  • Maintenance Inspection/Remedials

 

We have broken these down further to provide more information on why these services are important to protect your asset.

Site Assessment

Before implementing any security measures, it is important to conduct a thorough risk assessment by a competent and experienced person to understand the vulnerabilities and potential risks associated with the vacant property. This assessment should consider the following:

  1. Perimeter Security: Inspect the property’s fencing, gates, and walls for any damages or weaknesses. Ensure they are in good condition and repair any breaches, additional security measures may need to be recommended to protect your asset.
  2. Access Points: Identify all entry points, such as doors, windows, and garage openings. Assess their durability/functionality and reinforce them if necessary with correct product. It is also prudent to check the asset roof and ensure it is not accessible and there are no obvious leaks.
  3. Lighting: Evaluate the property’s lighting to eliminate dark areas. Adequate illumination can deter criminals and improve visibility for surveillance.
  4. Surveillance System: Check the existing infrastructure for security cameras or install a comprehensive temporary or permanent surveillance system to monitor the property effectively.
  5. Alarms: Consider installing an intruder alarm system that is connected to a monitoring service, ensuring immediate response in case of any unauthorised access.

 

Physical Security Measures

Implementing appropriate physical security measures is crucial to maintaining the integrity of a vacant property. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Locks and Security Doors: Install high-quality locks on all entry points. Reinforce doors and consider using security screens or steel doors for added protection.
  2. Window Security: Secure windows steel screens or timber board as a minimum, other products can be provided but often offer less protection. This deters most criminals from breaking in and also wards off ASB issues.
  3. Structural Reinforcement: Assess the structural integrity of the property and reinforce weak points, such as walls, roofs, and floors, to prevent unauthorised entry.
  4. Securing External Areas: Secure external areas such as storage sheds, garages, or parking lots. Implement fencing, good lighting, and lockable gates to deter trespassers.

 

Property Maintenance

Regular property maintenance plays a vital role in preventing the deterioration of an asset and deterring potential intruders. Consider the following:

  1. Routine Inspections: Schedule regular inspections to check for signs of deterioration, such as leaks, plumbing issues, or electrical problems. Timely repairs prevent further damage and discourage squatting. These are usually a minimum insurance requirement for vacant properties.
  2. Landscaping: Maintain the property’s landscape by regularly cutting grass, trimming shrubs, and removing any objects that could provide cover for unauthorised individuals, this also shows the property is being managed and maintained and prevents a derelict appearance to the asset.
  3. Visible Signage: Display prominent signage indicating the property is monitored, protected, or under surveillance. This can act as a deterrent to potential trespassers and vandals.
  4. Perimeter or physical presence: This will provide further maintenance visits and site checks which in turn will provide visibility and deter potential intruders.

 

Remote Monitoring and Response

Utilising technology for remote monitoring allows businesses to keep a watchful eye on their vacant properties from anywhere. Consider the following:

  1. Remote Surveillance: Utilise CCTV cameras with remote access capabilities. This enables real-time monitoring and the ability to alert authorities in case of suspicious activity.
  2. Motion Sensor Lights: Install motion-activated lights both inside and outside the property. These lights can startle intruders and attract attention from neighbours or security personnel.
  3. Contact Information: Provide updated contact information to local law enforcement and security companies, allowing them to reach you easily in case of emergency.
  4. Regular Communication: Maintain regular communication with neighbouring properties, security personnel, and local authorities to keep them informed about the status of the property and any security measures in place.

 

Vacant properties need not be a target for criminals if proper security measures are put in place. By implementing the suggestions provided in this checklist, businesses can minimise the risk of vandalism, theft, and unauthorised access and ensure the protection of their vacant properties.

Remember, security is an ongoing process, so regular assessments and updates to security measures are essential. Stay safe, stay secure!

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